I don't own a car - never have and hopefully never will. I don't really need one, nor even want one. I'm quite happy to get around on foot or by public transport and I have organised my life to ensure that almost everything I require is within walking distance.
Walking is great. It's good for my health (and my figure). It's cheap. It allows me space to think. It gives me greater control over my movements. But most importantly, in No Impact Week, it is sustainable.
I only wish I could be as positive about public transport. Don't get me wrong. I'm a passionate believer in it in all its forms. It's just that it doesn't work very well in Bristol or the UK.
Bristol's bus service is run by a private company. Most of the buses are presentable and the drivers helpful, but fares are high, customer information is woefully inadequate, routes are limited and evening and Sunday services are patchy and sometimes non existent. As a result it's not nearly as widely patronised as it could be. Even I only use it when I have to. I'd almost always much rather walk.
The UK's rail service is run by a number of private companies. The track is owned by another. The standard fares are prohibitive and the process of purchasing them so complicated that it defies all but the most determined traveller. An article in last Saturday's Guardian suggested a variety of strategies for getting the best deal, which included shopping for the cheapest online booking website and splitting long distance journeys into smaller sections! Why does it need to be so complicated?
Which brings me back to those Easyjet tickets. My younger daughter wishes to visit her older sister in Glasgow. The cheapest train fare (two singles are cheaper than a return!) would have cost £121. The two Easyjet flights cost £53. Even allowing for the cost of the airport bus fares at either end (£10 in Bristol and £7 in Glasgow) the rail option is almost twice as expensive - and so much longer! It is, of course, true that had I started looking six weeks ago when the rail tickets were first released I could have got them much cheaper, but it's not always possible to plan one's life three months in advance. So on this occasion I sacrificed my principles in favour of ease and economy. I wish it had been otherwise. However, until our government seriously addresses the environmental discrepancies in its transport policy there will be little incentive to take the more sustainable option.
Still, I don't often fly. Our last holiday flights were to Greece in 2006. I have only flown four times since, thrice to/from Edinburgh when my Dad was dying and once from Glasgow to allow us more time to settle our daughter into university. It's important not to let principles override other more important considerations when they arise.
Today I walked to work as usual. However, given that it is no more than a quarter of a mile from home this is no hardship. I popped out to the shops on foot at lunchtime and walked to a friends' house for dinner.
The five things for which I am grateful today
Sunshine and blue skies
A busy day to keep me distracted
Lemon drizzle cake